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HomeAsiaNorth Korean farmers question prioritization of ‘cows over people’

North Korean farmers question prioritization of ‘cows over people’

'Quick read' news summary

As another bitter winter grips North Korea, authorities are ensuring that its bullocks – working cows that pull plows and do other chores – are getting fed, even though it’s not doing the same for its citizens, sources in the country say.

Sources told RFA that caretakers are receiving plenty of feed for the bullocks on collective farms, while annual rations for farmers have been halved, owing to a poor harvest. The move seems to be aimed at boosting harvest production.

A source from South Pyongan province who declined to be named told Radio Free Asia that grain distribution for the winter at collective farms in Maengsan county ended in December. “This year’s distribution received by the farmers is only about half a year’s worth of food,” the source said.

“However, 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of corn kernel and corn stalks were supplied to the working cows of the cooperative farm,” he said. “As a result, farmers complained that cows were treated more favorably than people, and that cows are more important than people.”

Sources in North Korea say temperatures have dropped far below freezing in the country and, as food becomes more scarce, large numbers of people have gone missing, believed starved or frozen to death.

RFA received reports of homeless beggar children, known as kotebji, dying on the street, while even the employed have been deserting their homes to subsist on hunting and fishing in remote areas because they cannot afford to buy food.

Speaking on condition of anonymity citing fear of reprisal, a

As another bitter winter grips North Korea, authorities are ensuring that its bullocks – working cows that pull plows and do other chores – are getting fed, even though it’s not doing the same for its citizens, sources in the country say. Sources told RFA that caretakers are receiving plenty of feed for the bullocks on collective farms, while annual rations for farmers have been halved, owing to a poor harvest. “This year's distribution received by the farmers is only about half a year's worth of food,” the source said.

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